Group aims to get people working againThe card Steven Langseth hands out identifies him as an IT executive consultant.
By: Nathan Hansen, Rosemount Town Pages
The card Steven Langseth hands out identifies him as an IT executive consultant.
The title is maybe a bit optimistic. Langseth doesn’t have any clients and he hasn’t officially established a business. But after more than two months without a job Langseth is getting a refresher on the importance of appearances. And “consultant” looks a whole lot better on a business card than “unemployed.”
Cindi Parker is the one who pushed Langseth to get those cards. As the leader of a new unemployment support group at Rosemount United Methodist Church she has served as equal parts counselor, confessor and cheerleader to the handful of church members that has discovered the group.
“Sometimes we just talk about what it’s like to be unemployed,” said Parker, who started the group at the request of the church’s pastors. “Other times we’re really into problem-solving mode. We talk about how to spruce up a resume.... We’ve done some research as far as what’s the latest with unemployment benefits.”
The group meets from 7 to 8 p.m. Mondays at the church and Parker said the discussion takes whatever direction the people who show up each night want it to take.
Parker comes to meetings with information about opportunities with non-profit organizations or leads on job banks. She has recruited a friend who works in human resources to review resumes for members of the group. She recruited her daughter, a business attorney, to review one member’s severance contract.
“I leaned on her,” Parker said.
On this particular Monday Langseth is the only member of the group to show up. He and Parker talked about what he’s done to find work. She shares some leads and offers encouragement. She talks more than once about the hard work it takes to find a new job.
“The magic bullet is, you’re working a full time job to get a full time job,” she said.
Langseth was one day short of 20 years with his former employer when he lost his job Dec. 31. He found himself wondering a couple of weeks ago why his church didn’t have a support group for people looking for work, then picked up the church bulletin to discover it did. Langseth showed up to his first meeting interested in networking but also in sharing some of the information he’d gathered during his own search.
Langseth has worked with an interview coach and he’s done a lot of other research he’s eager to bring to others.
“One of the things I knew I needed to do was get out and talk to more people because sitting at home hammering through Careerbuilder — those weren’t the positions I was looking for,” Langseth said. “Even if something doesn’t come out of it, at least you know you’re not the only one in the community that is facing this issue.”
Parker knows there are more people out there in the same position as Langseth. Only four or five people have showed up for support group meetings but Parker hopes to reach out to more. She’s put a notice in the church newsletter looking both for people who are unemployed and people who have resources that could help people looking for work. The bigger the network, she figures, the more opportunities are likely to come up.
Parker said one of the lessons she reinforces for group members is that there’s no reason to be ashamed of the position they’re in.
“You never now when a person is going to be in Panera bread or walking down the aisle at Cub Foods and they see someone (who can help),” Langseth said. ‘Crap happens and you need the support of everyone.”